Google to let Apps users try out Wave

Google will let some users of its Apps suite test-drive in the fall its Wave collaboration and communication tool, the company said on Tuesday in an official blog.

Wave, announced in May, is currently available in a preview version to application developers because the product is still in an early stage.

Apps administrators interested in making Wave available to their end-users can sign up by filling out this online form. Google plans to make Wave available to all Apps users next year.

Wave generated a lot of buzz when it was first demoed in May at Google's I/O Conference for developers. It is a sort of Swiss army knife for communication and collaboration, consolidating in a single tool features from e-mail, instant messaging, blogging, wikis, multimedia management and document sharing.

As such, it will be interesting to see how it fits in Apps, since Wave could possibly overlap with individual components of that suite, like Gmail, Talk, Docs and Sites.

Google officials have acknowledged that, although Wave is very promising and potentially groundbreaking, its success will depend to a large extent on Google's ability to communicate clearly to people what it is, what it does and what are its use cases.

In its announcement on Tuesday, Google took another crack at describing Wave and suggesting ways in which it could be useful for users of Apps, a collaboration and communications suite designed for use in organizations of all sizes and educational institutions.

"A wave is equal parts conversation and document, where individuals communicate and work together in a multimedia environment – the wave itself," reads the blog posting. "Whether there's a report to write, an event to plan, research to do or communications to conduct, we're building Google Wave so people can be more productive and collaborate more effectively in a real time environment."

For example, Wave lets users collaborate on a document by adding elements like text, photos, lightweight "gadget" applications and maps, according to Google. "It's communication and collaboration, conversation and document, in one unified, cloud-based space," reads the posting.

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